Thursday, August 02, 2007

Tsawwassen two-step

BC NeoLib Gordon Campbell's settlement with the Tsawwassen band is a travesty.
And now both the BC NDP and the BC Green Party have given it their blessing.

What's wrong with it?
Couple of things ...
1)The 207 hectares of farmland to come out of the Agricultural Land Reserve via the band. It is to be paved over to park containers for Campbell's pet Roberts Bank Deltaport expansion.
2)Campbell's disregard of both DFO and Environment Canada reports on likely damage to Fraser River salmon and wildlife, including adjacent Burns Bog
3)The $15,000 cash payout to select elders from Campbell upon ratification
4)The stacked voting :
From FN activist Bertha Williams prior to the vote :


"The chief and council of our band ... use such trickery as an “enrollment application” in order to vote on the treaty. In the application there is a section where we have to relinquish our claim to our inherent rights.
If we don’t enroll, we are not allowed to vote. This would pave the way for a more secure “yes” vote."

The First Nations people involved should never have been put in this terrible position, but I don't want to hear the words "green" or "sustainability" or "stewardship of the earth" out of the NDP or the Greens again for a long long time.



UPDATE : The other side of this coin. From Chris in comments :

"TFN has been hollaring for years about the damage in the estuary to fish stocks and migratory birds, but they were dismissed for decades as lunatics. When everyone else was ignoring the damage of Roberts Bank and the Tsawwassen ferry terminal, TFN was on top of it. When they eventually built the development at Tsatsu shores (without the city of Delta letting them hook up into their sewar system) to create some economic development for the band, everyone screamed about how they had destroyed the environmental conditions of Roberts Bank.

TFN is completely surrounded by agricultural, special Crown and private land. I am a supporter of the ALR, but First Nations were never consulted when it was created, in violation of now established Aboriginal rights. If TFN is to be a viable community, they need more land. What are the options?

It strikes me as funny that the people who oppose this treaty are quoting a "First Nations activist", Bertha Williams. It's as if there is a need to find the "activist" in the community and support her position, regardless of what she is saying. The irony is that the TFN were one of the most politically active bands for decades, trying to get the surrounding communities of Delta and Ladner to pay attention to them. They never garnered much support then, when Kim Biard and her predecessors were confronting the red neck citizens of Ladner and Delta. Now they are somehow sell-outs and pariahs?

As for the link to the Tyee story by Rafe Mair (I mean, c'mon, Rafe Mair?) there is a good reason for allowing non-residents of TFN to vote: they are citizens and Aboriginal rights are held collectively by the citizens of a Nation, not the residents of a reserve. Why shouldn't the governments be on the hook for helping the enrolment vote take place? The reserve system and federal and provincial policies divided First Nations communities in the first place, and having TFN hemmed in by developments and land designations that they never had a say in means that there is limited ability for all Nation members to be on reserve.

The TFN agreement may not be the model of sustainability and the provincial government's plans for Deltaport may be egregious, but it strikes me that one of the best reasons for a treaty is that it finally involves the greenest party of the three in the mix, and, based on their track record, I trust TFN infinitely more than any other level of government to steward the land properly. Given all the damage done there already, it's a tough job, but finally the future of south Delta includes one sane voice in the mix of development-crazy mayors, politicians and CEOs.

I wish them the best of luck "

6 comments:

Chris said...

Allison (and others):

TFN has been hollaring for years about the damage in the estuary to fish stocks and migratory birds, but they were dismissed for decades as lunatics. When everyone else was ignoring the damage of Roberts Bank and the Tsawwassen ferry terminal, TFN was on top of it. When they eventually built the development at Tsatsu shores (without the city of Delta letting them hook up into their sewar system) to create some economic development for the band, everyone screamed about how they had destroyed the environmental conditions of Roberts Bank.

TFN is completely surrounded by agricultural, special Crown and private land. I am a supporter of the ALR, but First Nations were never consulted when it was created, in violation of now established Aboriginal rights. If TFN is to be a viable community, they need more land. What are the options?

It strikes me as funny that the people who oppose this treaty are quoting a "First Nations activist", Bertha Williams. It's as if there is a need to find the "activist" in the community and support her position, regardless of what she is saying. The irony is that the TFN were one of the most politically active bands for decades, trying to get the surrounding communities of Delta and Ladner to pay attention to them. They never garnered much support then, when Kim Biard and her predecessors were confronting the red neck citizens of Ladner and Delta. Now they are somehow sell-outs and pariahs?

As for the link to the Tyee story by Rafe Mair (I mean, c'mon, Rafe Mair?) there is a good reason for allowing non-residents of TFN to vote: they are citizens and Aboriginal rights are held collectively by the citizens of a Nation, not the residents of a reserve. Why shouldn't the governments be on the hook for helping the enrolment vote take place? The reserve system and federal and provincial policies divided First Nations communities in the first place, and having TFN hemmed in by developments and land designations that they never had a say in means that there is limited ability for all Nation members to be on reserve.

The TFN agreement may not be the model of sustainability and the provincial government's plans for Deltaport may be egregious, but it strikes me that one of the best reasons for a treaty is that it finally involves the greenest party of the three in the mix, and, based on their track record, I trust TFN infinitely more than any other level of government to steward the land properly. Given all the damage done there already, it's a tough job, but finally the future of south Delta includes one sane voice in the mix of development-crazy mayors, politicians and CEOs.

I wish them the best of luck

Ian said...

Excellent points, Chris. I hadn't realized that FN were not consulted about the creation of the ALR. I don't know what a better deal would look like but the pitting of ALR advocates against FN advocates is a typical Campbell manouver and very sad.

I don't see Allison blaming the FN for this here or painting them as "pariahs". I read her point as being that the NDP and Greens just ducked the whole controversy and were complicit in allowing Campbell to get land out of the ALR for his expanded port.

Shocking from the NDP.
I wish the FN the best of luck too.

Chris said...

Yes, I agree Alison's post is about the Greens and the NDP, but they are supporting the treaty. I'm pretty sure the Greens are supporting paving the ALR for containers.

If you follow the link, it goes to a Bill Tielman article which entangles the treaty and the ALR removal to make the Greens look bad. It is a text book bait and switch. No different from "do you support the troops? Then you must support the war." Tie controversary to a motherhood issue and then slap your opponent.

Meh.

It's too much to ask former NDP spin doctors to issues best wishes to a First Nation that has put everything the can for the past 12 years into this deal for their people. If the Libs did it it must be bad. That's Tielman's problem. He spins. Ain't good for democracy.

I make no apology for the NDP or the Greens, but for the love of God, is it too much to ask that we say "yay!" for a small community that has actually managed to do something this significant? Why doesn't Tielmann just ask the Greens what they think about the ALR and food policy? They're position on agriculture and sustainable food production is miles beyond what he ever dreamed of peddling for the NDP WHEN THEY WERE IN POWER. And the Libs have actualy done a thing that the NDP never did, and that is to complete two treaties. I'm no Liberal, but I worked deeply in the treaty process when the NDP were in power and it was a hard slog from the province back then.

Anyway, rant over. Alison's a friend, and I love her, but I think there are probably better ways to examine the NDP and the Green's take on industrial development without shooting a First Nation down in the cross-fire.

thwap said...

Well, I'm glad that I can have access to such detailed discussion of important issues.

Jan said...

article which entangles the treaty and the ALR removal to make the Greens look bad. It is a text book bait and switch. No different from "do you support the troops? Then you must support the war." Tie controversary to a motherhood issue and then slap your opponent.

With all due respect, Chris, I disagree with your take on this.
It was Baird who tied development on ALR land to the treaty when she called its inclusion in the process "a dealbreaker".
I don't think ALR land should be off the table here but it was Baird who insisted on the development aspect.

Chris said...

Yes, of course she insisted that the ALR condition be removed from treaty settlement land. TFN is surrounded by ALR. They need land for housing and economic development for their citizens, but over the past 100 years they have been penned in. If they were to accept treaty settlement land unencumbered by the ALR, it would have to be nowhere near their community. That would seem to be a deal breaker. I think there is no piece of Crown land within TFN territory big enough to accomodate the community. And just how practical would it be to relocate the community from its traditional village site?

Don't forget, TFN was never consulted when the provincial government encumbered their lands with the ALR before resolving the underlying issues of Aboriginal rights and title. TFN has actually taken the high road by agreeing to settle the question at the treaty table rather than going to Court to assert that the application of the ALR was an infringement of their Aboriginal title. Given the precedents of Haida/Taku and Delgamuukw, they have a very strong case, and it would have cost the BC government many times the treaty settlement value to fight the case and, if they lost, to compensate TFN. And they STILL would have to resolve outstanding issues of aboriginal rights.

I am a fan of the ALR. I think we need to protect agricultural land. But here is something to think about. I think there is more ALR under glass in Delta than there is treaty settlement land. You can put a greenhouse anywhere, so putting one on ALR-designated land effectively takes that land out of the ALR. The ALR protects the best growing lands in BC. Greenhouses don't need these lands to grow. There are countless threats to the ALR from development and corporate interests. TFN and the other three levels of government need a treaty settlement. If the province wants the land back in the ALR, it could reverse engineer some golf courses and greenhouses and get more than it gave up to the Tsawwassen.

So, a question for the armchair negotiators. If you were BC's chief negotiator and TFN's demand was a deal breaker, would you have chosen to scuttle the deal over ALR designation?

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